Chris Paul is one of the legends of the game and one of the best point guards to have ever played. In terms of on-court leadership and pure talent, he is easily a top-10 point guard of all time. But there is only one thing Paul has yet to prove in his career and that is playing in an NBA Finals.
Chris Paul never took the short route to join a super team to win easy rings so he deserves credit for that, but that might not be the biggest reason why he isn't a champion. His injury history is the reason because Paul has missed very important playoff games as a Los Angeles Clipper, Houston Rocket, and now the star for the Phoenix Suns. Here is the nightmarish injury history of one of the game's greatest point guards.
2015 Western Conference Semi-Finals
Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Clippers 4-3
Chris Paul brought "Lob City'' to Los Angeles and finally created a direct rival to the Lakers in terms of on-court play. Paul, alongside the growth of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, made the Clippers relevant and an instant title contender in the Western Conference. Paul led the NBA in assists at 10.2 APG during the regular season while playing 82 total games. That seems shocking when considering how banged up he normally is.
But Paul would miss Games 1 and 2 which were split evenly between the two teams. Even when Paul returned, he had a great series averaging 10.0 APG once again but the Clippers fell to the Rockets in 7 games. Only one can imagine if Paul was healthy the entire series.
2016 Western Conference First Round
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Clippers 4-2
This was a frustrating season for Chris Paul. The point guard did his thing in the regular season, averaging 19.5 PPG and 10.0 APG while playing 74 total games. The Clippers were once again a force in the West but their playoff run was cut too short. Chris Paul suffered an untimely broken hand during the first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers which ended the Clippers' playoff run.
Without Chris Paul on the court, the Trail Blazers blasted the Clippers on the court and Los Angeles would lose the final two games of the series without their leader. Had Chris Paul remained healthy, the Clippers would have dealt with Portland because their continuity and talent would have proved to be too much.
2018 Western Conference Finals
Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets 4-3
This was the most frustrating postseason injury of Chris Paul's career. Chris Paul, James Harden, and the Houston Rockets were going to do the unthinkable by defeating the superteam Golden State Warriors led by Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson. After all, the Rockets held a convincing 3-2 lead going into Game 6. Unfortunately for Rockets fans around the world, Paul hurt his hamstring and could not play a second of the remainder of the series.
Of course, Game 6 was a beatdown. The Warriors completely shell shocked the Rockets without Paul, as Harden could not match the Warriors' hot shooting. The Rockets lost by 29 points in that game, heading into a pivotal Game 7. Without Chris Paul, it would have taken a monumental effort from James Harden and the Rockets shooters to pull this off. As expected, it didn't happen, as the Rockets missed a record-breaking 27 straight three-pointers en route to a 9-point loss. Had Paul been healthy, a single-digit loss probably would have been a victory for the Rockets and a trip to the NBA Finals.
2021 Western Conference First Round
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns 2-1
Chris Paul has played in every game of the 2021 playoffs, but he hasn't been the player we all know. Paul hurt his shoulder in a bad fall in Game 1 and has looked like a shell of himself ever since. Chris Paul had 6 points in 23 minutes in Game 2 and 7 points in 27 minutes in Game 3. Clearly, this is not the same player that was in the MVP race all season long.
Without Chris Paul, the Phoenix Suns have no shot at defeating the Los Angeles Lakers. This injury is frustrating for Paul who is playing on the best team since his Houston Rockets days, and the fact he cannot be on the court at 100% is harming his team. Chris Paul has had a long history of postseason injuries and this season is yet another example of why the legendary point guard might not ever play in an NBA Finals.